Posted in books, films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

Sylvia Anderson

English television and film producer, writer and voice actress, Sylvia Anderson sadly died 15 March 2016 at age 88, following a short illness. She was born in South London, England on 27 March 1927 and After graduating from the London School of Economics with a degree in economics and sociology, she became a social worker. She emigrated to the United States to live with her first husband, an American golfer. While in America, she worked as a journalist. She Returned to the United Kingdom with her daughter, Dee And joined the newly founded and short-lived Polytechnic Films as a secretary in 1957 and met Gerry Anderson, an editor and director. That year, when Anderson and Arthur Provis created AP Films following Polytechnic’s collapse, she joined them on the board of directors of the new company, alongside their colleagues John Read and Reg Hill.In 1960, the couple married, after which she played a wider role in production duties. Gerry Anderson and AP Films went on to create many popular and enduring classic television shows such as Fireball XL5, Joe 90,Stingray, Captain Scarlet and Thinderbirds using a technique dubbed Supermarionation. In addition to serving as co-creator and co- on their TV series during the 1960s and early 1970s, Anderson’s primary contribution was character development and costume design .She regularly directed the bi-weekly voice recording sessions, and provided the voices of many female and child characters, in particular Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds.

Thunderbirds

Sadly the The Andersons’ creative partnership ended when their marriage broke down during the production of the first series of Space: 1999 in 1975. Gerry announced his intention to separate on the evening of the wrap party, following which Sylvia ceased her involvement with the company, which by this time had twice been renamed and was now called Group Three. The Andersons divorced at the start of the 1980s, following a 5-year separation. In 1983, she published a novel titled Love and Hisses and in 1994, she reprised her voice role as Lady Penelope for an episode of Absolutely Fabulous. She worked as a London-based talent scout for HBO for 30 years.

Her autobiography Yes M’Lady was first published in 1991; in 2007, it was re-published as My FAB Years with new material to bring it up to date with the latest developments in her life, such as her role as a production consultant for the 2004 live-action film adaptation of Thunderbirds. Of the film, Anderson commented, “I’m personally thrilled that the production team have paid us the great compliment of bringing to life our original concept for the big screen. If we had made it ourselves (and we have had over 30 years to do it!) we could not have improved on this new version. It is a great tribute to the original creative team who inspired the movie all those years ago. It was a personal thrill for me to see my characters come to life on the big screen. My FAB Years was re-released as a spoken CD, narrated by Anderson, in 2010.

In 2013, Anderson worked with her daughter Dee, a jazz singer, on a concept for a new TV series named “The Last Station”. They set up a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for followers to contribute and be a part of the series. In 2015, Anderson traveled to Italy to receive a Pulcinella Award in recognition of her career in television production. Anderson was also known for her charity work, particularly in support of Breast Cancer Care and Barnardo’s.

Posted in books, Fantasy, films & DVD, Science fiction

H. P. Lovecraft

Prolific American horror, fantasy and Science Fiction author Howard Phillips Lovecraft tragically died on March 15, 1937, in Providence. He was born August 20, 1890, known as H. P. Lovecraft he wrote mostly horror, fantasy, poetry and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction. Lovecraft’s guiding aesthetic and philosophical principle was what he termed “cosmicism” or “cosmic horror”, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally inimical to the interests of humankind. As such, his stories express a profound indifference to human beliefs and affairs. Lovecraft is the originator of the Cthulhu Mythos story cycle and the Necronomicon, a fictional magical textbook of rites and forbidden lore.

Some of Lovecraft’s work was inspired by his own nightmares. His interest started from his childhood days when his grandfather would tell him Gothic horror stories. Lovecraft’s biggest influence was Edgar Allan Poe and forbidden knowledge Is often a central theme in many of Lovecraft’s works.Many of his characters are driven by curiosity or scientific endeavor, and in many of his stories the knowledge they uncover proves Promethean in nature, either filling the seeker with regret for what they have learned, destroying them psychically, or completely destroying the person who holds the knowledge. Some critics argue that this theme is a reflection of Lovecraft’s contempt of the world around him, causing him to search inwardly for knowledge and inspiration. The beings of Lovecraft’s mythos often have human (or mostly human) servants; Cthulhu, for instance, is worshiped under various names by cults amongst both the Eskimos of Greenlandand voodoo circles of Louisiana, and in many other parts of the world.

These worshippers served as inspiration for Lovecraft. Many beings of the Mythos were too powerful to be defeated by human opponents, and so horrific that direct knowledge of them meant insanity for the victim. When dealing with such beings, Lovecraft needed a way to provide exposition and build tension without bringing the story to a premature end. Human followers gave him a way to reveal information about their “gods” in a diluted form, and also made it possible for his protagonists to win paltry victories. Lovecraft, like his contemporaries, envisioned “savages” as closer to supernatural knowledge unknown to civilized man. Another recurring theme in Lovecraft’s stories is the idea that descendants in a bloodline can never escape the stain of crimes committed by their forebears, at least if the crimes are atrocious enough. Descendants may be very far removed, both in place and in time (and, indeed, in culpability), from the act itself, and yet, they may be haunted by the revenant past, e.g. “The Rats in the Walls”, “The Lurking Fear”, “Arthur Jermyn”, “The Alchemist”, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, “The Doom that Came to Sarnath” and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

Often in Lovecraft’s works the protagonist is not in control of his own actions, or finds it impossible to change course. Many of his characters would be free from danger if they simply managed to run away; but are being prevented by some outside force, such as in “The Colour Out of Space” and “The Dreams in the Witch House”. Often his characters are subject to a compulsive influence from powerful malevolent or indifferent beings. As with the inevitability of one’s ancestry, eventually even running away, or death itself, provides no safety (“The Thing on the Doorstep”, “The Outsider”, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, etc.). In some cases, humanity itself is doomed and no escape is possible (“The Shadow Out of Time”). Lovecraft was also familiar with the work of the German conservative-revolutionary theorist Oswald Spengler, whose pessimistic thesis of the decadence of the modern West formed a crucial element in Lovecraft’s overall anti-modern worldview. Spenglerian imagery of cyclical decay is present in At the Mountains of Madness. The book H. P. Lovecraft: The Decline of the West, places Spengler at the center of his discussion of Lovecraft’s political and philosophical ideas.

H. P. Lovecraft’s writing, particularly the so-called Cthulhu Mythos, has influenced fiction authors including modern horror and fantasy writers such as Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Bentley Little, Joe R. Lansdale, Alan Moore, Junji Ito, F. Paul Wilson, Brian Lumley, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Neil Gaiman, have cited Lovecraft as one of their primary influences. Beyond direct adaptation, Lovecraft and his stories have had a profound impact on popular culture. Some influence was direct, as he was a friend, inspiration, and correspondent to many of his contemporaries, such as August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber. Many later figures were influenced by Lovecraft’s works, including author and artist Clive Barker, prolific horror writer Stephen King, comics writers Alan Moore and Mike Mignola, film directors John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, Guillermo Del Toro and artist H. R. Giger.

Japan has also been significantly inspired and terrified by Lovecraft’s creations and thus even entered the manga and anime media. Chiaki J. Konaka is an acknowledged Lovecraft disciple and has participated in Cthulhu Mythos, expanding several Japanese versions. Anime scriptwriter Cascade also tends to add horror elements and is credited for spreading the popularity of Lovecraft among anime base. Manga artist Junji Ito is also inspired by Lovecraft.

Although Lovecraft’s readership was limited during his lifetime, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. According to Joyce Carol Oates, an award-winning author, Lovecraft—as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century—has exerted “an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction”. Science fiction and fantasy authorStephen King called Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale. King has made it clear in his non-fiction book danse Macabre that Lovecraft was responsible for King’s own fascination with horror and the macabre, and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. Sadly though in 1936, Lovecraft was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine, and as a result he suffered from malnutrition and lived in constant pain until his death. However Lovecraft’s legacy lives on and his stories have been adapted into plays, films and games, such as Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth and id Software’s Quake.

Posted in Events

International day against Police Brutality

The International Day Against Police Brutality takes place annually on March 15th . Police brutality is one of several forms of police misconduct which involves undue violence by police members and is considered a violation of Civilian Rights. Widespread police brutality exists in many countries and territories, even those that prosecute it. Although illegal, it can be performed under the color of law.

For instance Many have been viciously beaten by police in Bangladesh. Various protesters were beaten with bats and sticks while protesting to insult of Islam. Recently, a young man named Shamim Reja was killed by police in Sonargaon police station. The victim’s father claimed that his son was brutally tortured in the police station as the police wanted 6 lakh taka (BDT 600,000). Police investigated this and found the officer in charge Arup Torofar and SI Paltu Ghush and ASP Uttam Prashad guilty as charged.

The Police in Brazil also have a history of violence against the lower classes, which dates back to the nineteenth century, when it served primarily as an instrument of control over the mass of slaves. Later with the abolition of slavery, in a largely rural country, the police forces came under strong influence of local large landowners known as ‘colonels’ and the practice was subsequently carried on by many.

Other examples of Police brutality include, 21 year-old Jens Arne Orskov Mathiason who died while in police custody and on the way to prison. The incident raised concerns over the behaviour of the officers involved, the thoroughness of the subsequent investigation and the willingness of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ to hold the officers accountable for their alleged failings. As a result, Amnesty International has called for the establishment of new mechanisms to investigate human rights violations and to enforce compliance with obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. In 2016, another man died in police custody after being arrested by seven officers from the Copenhagen Police.

In August 2009, police in Copenhagen were heavily criticised for their response to an attempt to dislodge Iraqi refugees who were living in a city church.Amateur video allegedly showed the police using violence against the refugees and their supporters. Between 12,000 and 20,000 people subsequently protested against these actions.

In 2012, the Danish Court of Appeal held that the Danish Police had violated Article 3 (against abusive treatment and torture) and Articles 5, 10 and 11 (dealing with the right to liberty, the right to information about the accusation and the freedom of peaceful assembly) of the European Convention of Human Rights, when, in 2009, they had made mass arrests during protests at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. In April 2016, video emerged of officers hitting people with batons and violently detaining a man, despite onlookers saying he couldn’t breathe.

There has been a notable lack of commitment to addressing the violation of civilians’ rights in Austria, with Amnesty International reporting that in 1998/1999 very few people who committed a violation of human rights were brought to justice. This was worsened by the fact that many people who made a complaint against police were brought up on counter-charges such as resisting arrest, defamation and assault. In 2014-2015, there were 250 accusations of police misconduct made against officers in Vienna, and not a single person was charged – however 1,329 people were charged with ‘civil disorder’ in a similar time period. The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT)’s 2014 report included a number of complaints of police using excessive force with detainees and also psychiatric patients. The culture of excusing police officers for their misconduct has continued well into the present day, and any complaints of mistreatment are often met with inadequate investigations and judicial proceedings

The International Day against Police Brutality first began in 1997 as an initiative of the Montreal based Collective Opposed to Police Brutality and the Black Flag group in Switzerland. Acceptance of March 15 as a focal day of solidarity against police brutality varies from one place to another. In the United States, the October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation, a group mounted by the RCP, has succeeded in building support for October 22 (also known as O22) as National Anti Police Brutality Day since 1995.

Posted in Events

World Consumer Rights Day

World Consumer Rights Day is held annually on 15 March to promote the basic rights of Consumers and to make sure those rights are respected and protected and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine them. The organisation was first established in 1960 as the International Organisation of Consumers Unions (IOCU) by national consumer organisations. The original members recognised that they could build upon their individual strengths by working across national borders. The organisation then rapidly grew and soon became established as the voice of the international consumer movement on issues such as: product and food standards, health and patients’ rights, the environment and sustainable consumption, and the regulation of international trade and public utilities.

The founding of IOCU was initially planned by Elizabeth Schadee, who would later chair the board of Holland’s Consumentenbond, and Caspar Brook, who was the first director of the England’s Consumers’ Association. The two proposed an international conference to make plans that consumer product testing organizations worldwide should work more closely together. The United States organization Consumers Union provided US$10,000 at the direction of Colston Warne to help fund the event. In January 1960, these three organizations sponsored the First International Conference on Consumer Testing in The Hague. Thirty-four people representing seventeen consumer organizations in fourteen countries attended to discuss product testing and founding the International Organization of Consumers Unions as an international organization. Belgium’s Association des Consommateurs and the Australian Consumers’ Association joined the three conference sponsors as the five founding organizations who would provide representatives for the international organizations initial council.

On March 15 1962 US President John F. Kennedy gave a speech on consumer rights which led to the creation of the Consumer Bill of Rights. Consumer rights activist Anwar Fazal later proposed the observance of a “World Consumer Rights Day” marking that date, and on 15 March 1983 consumer organizations began observing that date as an occasion to promote basic rights of consumers. Today Consumers International is the world federation of consumer groups that serves as an independent and authoritative global voice for consumers. It is based in London, England and currently has over 220 member organisations in 115 countries around the world, the organisation continues to build a powerful international movement to empower and protect consumers everywhere. In campaigning for the rights of consumers across the world, CI seeks to hold corporations to account and acts as a global watchdog against any behaviour that threatens, ignores or abuses the principles of consumer protection.

There are eight basic consumer rights:

  • Consumers should have their basic needs satisfied by giving them access to essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation
  • Consumers have a right to safety – to be protected against products, production processes and services which are hazardous to health or life
  • consumers should have access to relevant information to enable them to make an informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling.
  • consumers should be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality
    consumer should have their best interests represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.
  • Consumers should receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.
  • Consumers should be Able to acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
  • Consumers should have access to a healthy environment -to live and work in an environment that is non-threatening to the well being of present and future generations.

CI campaigns also seek to achieve real changes in government policy and corporate behaviour, whilst raising awareness of consumer rights and responsibilities. In 2012, CI launched Your rights, our mission, its strategic plan for 2013 to 2015. The plan includes four key programme areas combining CI’s work on international advocacy and organisational empowerment around a small number of issues. The aims of world Consumer Rights Day are to address and improve the rights of the consumer in certain important areas such as:

To give Consumers access to safe, fair and competitive financial services
To improve the Structure and functions of national bodies
To introduce Fair contracts, charges and practices
Improve Information design and disclosure
Improve dispute resolution
To improve Stability and safety
Encourage Competition
To work on financial consumer protection
To improve Mobile payments
To Support development of financial advice centres and advocacy capacity in developing countries
To improve Food safety, security and nutrition
To improve Consumers access to safe and nutritious food
To enable consumers to Choose a healthy diet
To improveFood labelling on packaging and in restaurants
To introduce a ban on trans fatty acids
To introduce A ban on junk food marketing to kids
To Reform processed food to reduce fat, sugar and salt.
To improveFood safety
To Facilitate member engagement in international standard setting
To oversee Projects in developing countries to improve food safety syste
To Monitor international processes
To protect Consumers in the digital age – Consumers should Be able to hold online service providers to account, broadband service providers should provideClear and accurate information
To ensure that Service Providers Aim to Address consumer concerns about tracking online activity and using this data in marketing
To improve Consumer representation in global governance relating to the information society.
To ensure that the consumer voice is heard in international institutions that relate to the information society.
To improve Access to knowledge
To enable Consumers’ rights for the fair use of copyright materials to be expanded and better recognised through ranking IP laws and practices and negotiation with IP bodies.
To improveConsumer justice and protection And improve realisation of consumer rights
To revise UN guidelines
To bring an increased international focus on the legal empowerment of the consumer
To Work with international organisations to develop new initiatives and make resources available for consumer protection
To Work with CI members to support their work at the national level
Systematic assessment of members capacity
To Map ‘sustainable business models’ for consumer organisations.

CI has also campaigned on issues like junk food markting and unethical drug promotion, corporate social responsibility and unethical or unsustainable behaviour by corporations and governments.

Posted in music

Brett Michaels

American singer-songwriter and musician Brett Michaels was born 15 March 1963. He gained fame as the lead singer of the glam metal band Poison. Michaels began his performing career with a basement band called Laser and, then, in 1979, joined forces with longtime childhood friend Rockett to form a band called the Spectres. In 1980, Michaels and Rockett teamed up with Smith and Dall to form the band Paris and the group started playing the club circuit, performing mostly rock cover songs in local bars. the band moved to Los Angeles on March 6, 1980 and also changed the name of the group from Paris to Poison. Poison were formed in 1983, in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and consisted of lead vocalist Bret Michaels, guitarist Matt Smith, bassist Bobby Dall and drummer Rikki Rockett. Poison promoted themselves up and made the rounds performing in the famous local clubs. Matt Smith left and The band auditioned for a replacement guitarist, eventually narrowing down the field to three candidates: Slash, who would later join Guns N’ Roses; Steve Silva from the Joe Perry Project; and New York-born guitarist C.C. DeVille. Eventually choosing C.C. DeVille

Michaels, Rockett, Dall, and DeVille released Their debut album, Look What the Cat Dragged In, August 2, 1986. Including the songs, “Cry Tough”; “Talk Dirty to Me”, “I Want Action”, and “I Won’t Forget You. Poison’s second album, Open Up and Say…Ahh!, was released in 1988 and included the songs “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, “Nothin’ but a Good Time”, “Fallen Angel”, and “Your Mama Don’t Dance”. Poison sold over 50 million records worldwide and has sold 15 million records in the United States alone. The band has also charted ten singles to the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including six Top 10 singles and the Hot 100 number-one, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”.

Poison released their third consecutive multi-platinum selling album, Flesh & Blood in 1990 containing the singles: “Unskinny Bop”, “Ride the Wind”, Life Goes On”,”Flesh & Blood (Sacrifice)”and the ballad “Something To Believe In” which was dedicated to the band’s security guard and close friend James Kimo Maano who had recently died. ” In the 1990s following the release of the band’s first live album, Swallow This Live, the band experienced some line up changes and the fall of pop metal with the grunge movement, but despite a drop in popularity the band’s fourth studio album, Native Tongue, still achieved Gold status and the band’s first compilation album, Poison’s Greatest Hits: 1986–1996, went double platinum.

In the 2000s, with the original line up back together, the band found new popularity after a successful greatest hits reunion tour in 1999. The band began the new decade with the release of the long-awaited Crack a Smile… and More!, followed by the Power to the People album. The band toured almost every year to sold out stadiums and arenas. They released a brand new album, Hollyweird, in 2002 and in 2006 the band celebrated their 20-year anniversary with The Best of Poison: 20 Years of Rock tour and album, which was certified Gold and marked Poison’s return to the Billboard top 20 charts for the first time since 1993. Since their debut in 1986, they have released seven studio albums, four live albums, five compilation albums, and have issued 28 singles to radio. Brett has released several solo recordings including the soundtrack album to the movie A Letter from Death Row, Songs of Life, in 2003. Michaels has also appeared in several movies and TV shows, including as a judge on the talent show Nashville Star. He starred in the hit VH1 reality show Rock of Love with Bret Michaels and its sequels, then released Rock My World. In 2006, Hit Parader ranked Michaels at #1 on their list of greatest Heavy metal singers of all-time.

After 25 years, Poison are still recording music and performing. In 2012 VH1 ranked them at #1 on their list of the “Top 5 Hair Bands of the ’80s”. They have sold over 50 million records worldwide and 15 million records in the United States alone. The band has also charted ten singles to the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including six Top 10 singles and a number-one single, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”.

Posted in music

Sly Stone

American musician, songwriter, and record producer Sly Stone was born March 15th 1943, He most famous for his role as frontman of Sly & the Family Stone, a band which played a critical role in the development of soul, funk and psychedelia in the 1960s and 1970s, with songs like “Stand“, “I Want To Take You Higher”, “Sing A Simple Song”, “If You Want Me To Stay“, and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” In 1993, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Along with James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly & the Family Stone were pioneers of late 1960s and early ’70s funk. Their fusion of R&B rhythms, infectious melodies, and psychedelia created a new pop/soul/rock hybrid the impact of which has proven lasting and widespread. Motown producer Norman Whitfield, for example, patterned the label’s forays into harder-driving, socially relevant material (such as The Temptations’ “Runaway Child” and “Ball of Confusion”) based on their sound. The pioneering precedent of Stone’s racial, sexual, and stylistic mix, had a major influence in the 1980s on artists such as Prince and Rick James. Legions of artists from the 1990s forward — including Public Enemy, Fatboy Slim, Beck and many others — mined Stone’s seminal back catalog for hook-laden samples. After a mildly received debut album, A Whole New Thing (1967), Sly & The Family Stone had their first hit single with “Dance to the Music“, which was later included on an album of the same name (1968). Although their third album, Life (also 1968), also suffered from low sales, their fourth album, Stand! (1969), became a runaway success, selling over three million copies and spawning a number one hit single, “Everyday People“. By the summer of 1969, Sly & The Family Stone were one of the biggest names in music, releasing three more top five singles, “Hot Fun in the Summertime” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” / “Everybody Is a Star”, before the end of the year, and appearing at Woodstock.

Infortunately the band’s new found fame and success caused numerous problems. Relationships within the band were deteriorated particular between the Stone brothers & Bass player Larry Graham. After moving to the Los Angeles area in 1969, Stone and his bandmates became heavy users of illegal drugs, As the members became increasingly focused on drug use and partying (Stone carried a violin case filled with illegal drugs wherever he went), recording slowed significantly. Between summer 1969 and fall 1971, the band released only one single, which was one of the first recordings to employ the heavy, funky beats that would be featured in the funk music of the following decade. It showcased Graham’s innovative percussive playing technique of bass “slapping”. During this time Stone’s behavior became increasingly erratic. new material was anticipated in 1970, but with none forthcoming, a Greatest Hits album was released that November. One year later, the band’s fifth album, There’s a Riot Goin’ On, was released. Riot featured a much darker sound as most tracks were recorded with overdubbing as opposed to The Family Stone all playing at the same time as they had done previously. Stone played most of the parts himself and performed more of the lead vocals than usual. It was also the first major label album to feature a drum machine. The band’s cohesion slowly began to erode, and its sales and popularity began to decline as well. Live bookings for Sly & the Family Stone had also steadily dropped since 1970. The final straw came In January 1975, after the band booked itself at Radio City Music Hall. The famed music hall was only one-eighth occupied, and Stone and company had to scrape together money to return home, Following the Radio City engagement, the band split.

On Sunday, January 14, 2007 Stone made a short guest appearance at a show of The New Family Stone band he supports at the House of Blues. On April 1, 2007, Stone appeared with the Family Stone at the Flamingo Las Vegas Showroom, after George Wallace’s standup act. On July 7, 2007 Stone also made a short appearance with the Family Stone at the San Jose, CA Summerfest. On Labor Day, September 7, 2009, Stone emerged at the 20th annual African Festival of the Arts in Chicago, Ill. He performed a 15 minute set during George Clinton’s Performance. He performed his popular hits along with George Clinton’s band. He left immediately after his short performance. On December 6, 2009, Sly signed a new recording contract with the LA based Cleopatra Records and on August 16, 2011, I’m Back! Family & Friends was released, the first Sly Stone album since 1982′s Ain’t But the One Way. The album features re-recorded versions of Sly & the Family Stone’s greatest hits with guest appearances from Jeff Beck, Ray Manzarek, Bootsy Collins, Ann Wilson, Carmine Appice and Johnny Winter, as well as three previously unreleased songs.

Posted in music

Mike Love (Beach Boys)

Mike Love, American singer/songwriter and musician with The Beach Boys was born March 15th in 1941. He was a founding member of the beach Boys along with his cousins Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, and their friend Al Jardine. From an early age The Wilson family home was a musical one, and Mike often sang with the Wilson family at get-togethers at the Wilson home during his childhood. Brian and his brothers Carl and Dennis Wilson along with Mike Love and Al Jardine first gelled as a music group in the summer of 1961, initially named the Pendletones. Brian Wilson also began to experiment with recording songs after receiving a Wollensak tape recorder on his 16th birthday, which lead to the Formation of The Beach Boys, and After being encourageded by Dennis to write a song about the local water sports craze, Brian and Mike Love together created what would become the first single for the band, “Surfin’”.

Although he played the saxophone in the first years of the band, he was also the co -lead singer, along with Brian Wilson, of the Beach Boys. Love wrote or co-wrote lyrics to many of the Beach Boys songs, mostly with the themes of surfing, cars or love, but also memorable ballads such as “The Warmth of the Sun
and sang the lead vocal on many of the Beach Boys’ biggest hits, mainly fast-paced rock’n’rollers (while Brian Wilson handled the early ballads), including “Surfin’ Safari”, “Surfin’ USA“, “Shut Down”, “Little Deuce Coupe“, “Be True to Your School”, “Little Saint Nick”, “Fun, Fun, Fun“, “I Get Around”, “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)”, “Little Honda”, “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “California Girls“. The Beach boys latest album was the career spanning retrospective “That’s why god made the Radio”. Love continues to perform with the band to the present day and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 along with the other founding Beach Boy members.

Posted in cars, sport

Rolls Royce

Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Piccadilly Roadster

Renowned Luxury British Car Manufacturer Rolls-Royce Limited was incorporated on 15th March 1906. The Company started in In 1884, by Henry Royce . who started an electrical and mechanical business and made his first car, a two-cylinder Royce 10, in his Manchester factory in 1904, and was introduced to Charles Rolls at the Midland Hotel in Manchester on 4 May of that year. Rolls was proprietor of an early motor car dealership, C.S.Rolls & Co. in Fulham.In spite of his preference for three or four cylinder cars, Rolls was impressed with the Royce 10, and in a subsequent agreement of 23 December 1904 agreed to take all the cars Royce could make. All would be badged as Rolls-Royces, and be sold exclusively by Rolls. The first Rolls-Royce car, the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, was unveiled at the Paris Salon in December 1904. Rolls-Royce Limited was formed on 15 March 1906, by which time it was apparent that new premises were required for production of cars. After considering sites in Manchester, Coventry, Bradford and Leicester, they moved to Derby. The new factory was largely designed by Royce, and production began in early 1908, with a formal opening on 9 July 1908 by Sir John Montagu. During 1906 Royce had been developing an improved six-cylinder model with more power than the 30hp. Initially designated the 40/50 hp, this was the company’s first all-new model. In March 1908 Claude Johnson, Commercial Managing Director and sometimes described as the hyphen in Rolls-Royce,succeeded in persuading Royce and the other directors that Rolls-Royce should concentrate exclusively on the new model, and all the earlier models were duly discontinued. After the First World War, Rolls-Royce successfully avoided attempts to encourage the British car manufacturers to merge. Faced with falling sales of the 40/50 (later known as Silver Ghost) the company introduced the smaller, cheaper Twenty in 1922, effectively ending the one-model policy followed since 1908.

After the introduction of the Phantom model in 1925 this 40/50 model was referred to as the Silver Ghost. The new 40/50 was responsible for the company’s early reputation with over 6,000 built. In 1921, the company opened a second factory in Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States (to help meet demand), where a further 1,701 “Springfield Ghosts” were built. This factory operated for 10 years, closing in 1931. Its chassis was used as a basis for the first British armoured car used in both world wars.In 1931 Rolls-Royce acquired the much smaller rival car maker Bentley after the latter’s finances failed to weather the onset of the Great Depression. From soon after World War II until 2002 standard Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars were often identical apart from the radiator grille and minor details.In 1933, the colour of the Rolls-Royce radiator monogram was changed from red to black because the red sometimes clashed with the coachwork colour selected by clients, and not as a mark of respect for the passing of Royce as is commonly stated. Rolls-Royce and Bentley car production moved to Crewe in 1946 where they began to assemble complete cars with bodies from the Pressed Steel Company (the new standard steel models) for the first time. Previously they had built only the chassis, leaving the bodies to specialist coach-builders.

Rolls-Royce also started to produce diesel engines in 1951. Initially, these were intended for heavy tractors and earth-movers but, later, they were installed in lorries (e.g. Scammell), railcars, diesel multiple units and Sentinel shunting locomotives. Rolls-Royce took over Sentinel’s Shrewsbury factory for diesel engine production in 1956. The Rolls-Royce diesel business was acquired by Perkins in the 1980s. In 1971, Rolls-Royce was crippled by the costs of developing the advanced RB211 jet engine, resulting in the nationalization of the company as Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited. In 1973, the car division was separated from the parent company as Rolls-Royce Motors. Rolls Royce also made Torque converters and railcar engines were often used with Twin Disc torque converters which were built by Rolls-Royce under licence from Twin Disc of the USA. “Twin Disc” is the name of the company (which originally manufactured friction clutches) and does not describe the construction of the torque converter.Sadly in 1971 Financial problems caused largely by development of the new RB211 turbofan engine led – after several cash subsidies – to the company being nationalised by the government. (Delay in production of the RB211 engine has been blamed for the failure of the technically advanced Lockheed TriStar, which was beaten to launch by its chief competitor, the Douglas DC-10.)In 1973 the motor car business was spun off as a separate entity, Rolls-Royce Motors. The main business of aircraft and marine engines remained in public ownership until 1987, when it was privatised as Rolls-Royce plc, one of many privatisations of the Thatcher government.

TOM CHILTON

British Touring Car driver and Hairdressing Legend Tom Chilton was born 15th March 1985. Tom was educated at Reigate St. Mary’s School and Shiplake College. A keen racer from an early age, he competed in the BRSCC T-Cars Championship in 1999 and 2000, going on to take the BRSCC Saloon Car winter championship in 2001.Turning his attention to the BTCC, he was team mate to ex-Superbike racer Aaron Slight in 2002 driving a Vauxhall Astra Coupé for Barwell Motorsport. He proved to be very quick, and although his lack of experience counted against him he nevertheless finished the season in 15th place overall and 5th in the Independents’ Cup.

In 2003 he finished in 9th place overall driving a works Honda Civic Type-R run by Arena Motorsport alongside Matt Neal and Alan Morrison. With Honda withdrawing manufacturer support for 2004, Arena only had the budget to run a single car for Chilton. However, the car was still well-prepared and he came through to take his first victory during the 9th race of the season, at Silverstone, in the process becoming the youngest winner of a BTCC race. He won again in the 29th race at Donington. His plans for 2005 centered around the DTM with a new programme backed by MG Rover, but this fell through with the demise of the British marque. He and Arena rejoined the BTCC at the second meeting of the season and combined his touring car duties with racing for Zytek in the ALMS and LMS endurance series. Chilton won in both ALMS and LMS racing. He was classified 5th in the 2005 British Touring Car Championship season despite only starting 24 of the 30 races. Chilton’s involvement with Zytek continued, subject to funding and availability; Tom and his brother Max drove the car at the Silverstone 1000 km in September 2007.

VX Racing signed him for 2006 to drive the #5 Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch. In a disappointing season for Vauxhall, Chilton never won a race and slipped to 7th overall. However, Vauxhall retained Chilton and Fabrizio Giovanardi for 2007, but Chilton did not want to stay at VX Racing in 2008.For 2009 Chilton returned to Arena Motorsport to drive a Ford Focus ST in the BTCC under the Team Aon banner, but spent much of the year developing the car and he ended the season 13th in the drivers’ standings. He remained with the team for 2010. The LPG-powered car was more competitive, taking four of the first five poles, but bad luck meant team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole took better results than Chilton initially. Both were on the podium in race two at Snetterton. At Silverstone the team was dominant, and Chilton was allowed to take both wins ahead of team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole, who finished ahead in the overall drivers’ championship but Chilton secured the Independents’ Trophy by a two point margin over Steven Kane.For 2011 the team developed a new car based on the new third generation Ford Focus which ran to Super 2000 regulations powered by an NGTC turbocharged engine. Results were poor initially as the car was developed but Chilton took the car to pole position at Knockhill, going on to win race one. He also won the final race of the season at Silverstone. He finished the year 7th in the drivers’ championship on 197 points.

Chilton made his debut in the World Touring Car Championship in 2012, driving for the Arena Motorsport team with their Ford Focus S2000 TC alongside fellow WTCC debutant James Nash. Although he was new to the championship, Chilton was ruled out of the Yokohama Trophy due to his experience in the BTCC as both a privateer and a works driver. In race one in Morocco, he scored the first points for Ford in their WTCC return after coming home in seventh place.He scored another point in race two in Slovakia. Chilton was given a five place grid penalty for a collision during qualifying for the Race of Austria, he locked up down the inside of Franz Engstler and made contact, putting Engstler out of Q1.An engine change for both Fords at the Race of Japan sent Chilton to the back of the grid for the first race. In the final race at Macau, Chilton lost control in the oil left on the track from Alex MacDowall’s collision with the barrier on lap 4, the subsequent crash forced him to retire. Chilton finishes 22nd in the drivers’ standings, two places behind team mate Nash. Chilton moved to RML for the 2013 season, driving a Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T alongside former world champion Yvan Muller.

He was also one of many racing drivers rumoured to be The Stig on BBC2 show Top Gear, after the previous Stig revealed his identity and has appeared in five series of Top Gear. He was one of the drivers in the People Carrier Race. He then again appeared as one of the drivers in the Toyota Aygo football match and also raced a Chevrolet motorhome with other touring car drivers as well as Richard Hammond and has also raced (and then rolled over) a double decker bus, and had earlier on in the episode raced against Jeremy Clarkson whilst driving a BMW M3. He has also appeared in Top Gear, racing against other touring car drivers, driving many other vehicles including, airport vehicles, buses and taxis, with most of these races ending in absolute carnage.

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Ides of March

The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martiae, Late Latin: Idus Martii) is a day on the Roman calendar that corresponds to March 15. It was marked by several religious observances and was the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. The death of Caesar made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history, as one of the events that marked the transition from the historical period known as the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.

Although March (Martius) was the third month of the Julian calendar, in the oldest Roman calendar it was the first month of the year. The Romans did not number days of a month sequentially from the first through the last day. Instead, they counted back from three fixed points of the month: the Nones (5th or 7th, depending on the length of the month), the Ides (13th or 15th), and the Kalends (1st of the following month). The Ides occurred near the midpoint, on the 13th for most months, but on the 15th for March, May, July, and October. The Ides were supposed to be determined by the full moon, reflecting the lunar origin of the Roman calendar.

The Ides of each month were sacred to Jupiter, the Romans’ supreme deity. The Flamen Dialis, Jupiter’s high priest, led the “Ides sheep” (ovis Idulius) in procession along the Via Sacra to the arx, where it was sacrificed. The Ides of March was also the occasion of the Feast of Anna Perenna, a goddess of the year (Latin annus) whose festival originally concluded the ceremonies of the new year. The day was enthusiastically celebrated among the common people with picnics, drinking, and revelry. Mamuralia may also have taken place on the Ides of March.

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In the later Imperial period, the Ides began a “holy week” of festivals for Cybele and Attis. The Ides was the day of Canna intrat (“The Reed enters”), when Attis was born and discovered as an infant among the reeds of a Phrygian river by either shepherds or the goddess Cybele, who was also known as the Magna Mater (“Great Mother”). 22 March, the day of Arbor intrat (“The Tree enters”) commemorated the death of Attis under a pine tree. Another festival involves A college of priests called dendrophoroi (“tree bearers”) who cut down a tree,suspended from it an image of Attis, and carried it to the temple of the Magna Mater with lamentations. A three-day period of mourning followed, culminating with the rebirth of Attis on 25 March, which corresponds with the date of the vernal equinox on the Julian calendar.

The Ides of March is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. Caesar was stabbed to death at a meeting of the senate. As many as 60 conspirators, led by Brutus and Cassius, were involved. According to Plutarch, a seer had warned that harm would come to Caesar no later than the Ides of March. This meeting is famously dramatised in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned by the soothsayer to “beware the Ides of March.” The Roman biographer Suetonius identifies the “seer” as a haruspex named Spurinna.Caesar’s death caused a crisis in the Roman Republic, and triggered the civil war that would result in the rise to sole power of his adopted heir Octavian (later known as Augustus). Since Caesar was also the Pontifex Maximus of Rome and a priest of Vesta. On the fourth anniversary of Caesar’s death in 40 BC, after achieving a victory at the siege of Perugia, Octavian executed 300 senators and knights who had fought against him under Lucius Antonius, the brother of Mark Antony to avenge Caesar’s death.